Featured in this edition: 9 Story Media Group / Brown Bag Films, Boat Rocker Studios, Echo Media, Epic Story Media, Fifth Ground Entertainment, Hop To It Productions, Kondolole Films, Muse Entertainment, Occasional Notes Productions, Portfolio Entertainment, Riverbank Pictures, Sinking Ship Entertainment and Wind Sun Sky Entertainment.
9 Story Media Group / Brown Bag Films
Grr-ific news for the beloved co-pro with Fred Rogers, Daniel Tiger’s Neighbourhood was named one of the most influential preschool brands of the last decade by License Global Magazine! The Daniel Tiger team pivoted during the production of Season 5 to create a music-filled special to help families cope with the challenges and disappointments they might be experiencing due to COVID-19. Won’t You Sing Along with Me? was co-produced in record time by Fred Rogers Productions and 9 Story’s animation studio Brown Bag Films. It received attention from media outlets including Vanity Fair, People, Variety, Mashable, and Romper, resulting in over 2 billion impressions.
9 Story Distribution placed 1st again in the Distribution Category on the Kidscreen Hot50 list! Brown Bag Films also made top ten, placing 5th in the Production category.
In 2020, 9 Story and Brown Bag Films had a combined total of 14 series greenlit for production! The Distribution division teamed up again with Fred Rogers Productions, this time on the eagerly anticipated puppet series Donkey Hodie.
Boat Rocker Studios
The Next Step Season 7 surpassed 6 million views on BBCiplayer with their 200th episode/bonus content as the second most viewed that day! BRS secured new sales for the series with CBBC / CMORE / Dreamia / RTE / HOT / DR / CBC Gem / ABC / Netflix in multiple territories.
BRS launched three new premium pre-school series, Kingdom Force, Remy & Boo, and Love Monster, immediately making multiple sales to leading kids’ platforms – Disney / Turner / CBC / SRC / Tiny Pop / RTE / France TV / Gulli / Super RTL / Canal Panda / ABC / TVNZ / YLE / SVT / RTL / TV2 / D-Smart / Discovery / MBC / Hop / Showmax / Youku / ViuTV.
In partnership with Industrial Brothers, BRS is currently in production on animated “pre-westoric” pre-school series, Dino Ranch, which launched on Disney Jr (US) and CBC/SRC (Canada) in January 2021. Dino Ranch follows the action-packed adventures of the Cassidy family as they tackle life in a fantastical, “pre-westoric” setting where dinosaurs still roam.
Boat Rocker Studios inked multiple development and production deals with premium SVOD services including Netflix, HBO Max, Apple TV+, to be announced later this year.
On parle de santé mentale was launched in January 2021 and received exceptional press coverage and support from the mental health professionals’ community. The 35-episode series created in collaboration with Télé-Québec answers an urgent need for mental health resources for teenagers as they deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. Episodes offer insight, tips and information on 35 subjects such as anxiety, stress, depression, self-esteem and resilience.
About Sex premiered on CBC Gem in September 2020. The series, based on the hit French Canadian webseries On parle de sexe, invites teens to take a funny and frank look at the mental, emotional and physical aspects of navigating life and love as a young adult. 35 episodes explore a range of topics through skits, expert advice and teen testimonials. It was nominated for two Kidscreen Awards in Teen Categories: Best Inclusivity and Best Mixed-Media Series.
Production of Toopy and Binoo – The Movie has started, led by the creators of the record-breaking TV series, Dominique Jolin and Raymond Lebrun. Distributed by MK2, the movie is expected to hit theatres across Canada in 2022. The Toopy & Binoo YouTube channel has up to 11.8 million minutes viewed per month, and over 800,000 Toopy & Binoo books have been sold in Canada!
Epic Story Media
Epic Storyworlds and Epic Story Media have partnered to create a new 2D animation studio in Quebec City, called Loomi Animation. Loomi is in production with series including Pet Shop Zombies, to launch by end of 2021, and Dex and the Humanimals, launching on SRC in Q1 2022.
Piper’s Pony Tales is in post-production, with delivery and launch fast approaching at the end of March. Epic also has Luna, Chip & Inkie in pre-production, with delivery for Knowledge Network in 2022!
Fifth Ground Entertainment
In 2020, Fifth Ground launched its first children’s television series, Leo’s FishHeads on TVOkids. The first all-aquatic animal show of its kind, Sayat and Christian are two budding ecologists working alongside experts using the latest technology and conservation methods to learn about our aquatic neighbours and what we all can do to help them. The overwhelmingly successful release led to pre-production on the follow up series, Leo’s Pollinators, about the bees, butterflies and more! It will be heading to production in the spring, premiering on TVOkids in late 2021.
Impressed by the series, Parks Canada commissioned a companion web series from Fifth Ground that dives deeper into the content of Leo’s FishHeads. The Parks Canada web series has just been released nationally on their social media channels.
Fifth Ground is also in development with TVOkids on children’s science adventure series Space School, exploring all the thrilling parts of space travel and what it takes to become an astronaut. The young host will even meet the cutting-edge explorers themselves! The show will go to air in late 2022.
Hop To It Productions
Hop To It worked on development on an uplifting wildlife and sustainability doc series Cailan to the Rescue, including a teaser — which was a semi-finalist in the Montreal Independent Film Festival! — featuring passionate 13-year-old volunteer Cailan and lots of iconic animals filmed in beautiful wild northern Ontario. It will be pitched at Kidscreen and Realscreen Summits, and it is hoped filming will occur from spring to fall 2021.
They have also worked on development of preschool live-action series, Davina’s Pet Club, with talented young black writer and actress Lory Mpiana, and received some funding for Filipino coming-of-age musical comedy Northern Nightingales to be developed with a diverse young team.
Hop To It has been able to put time and resources into mentoring diverse young people and starting to share their inspiring stories.
Ping and Friends was nominated in the Best Interactive App for Preschool category at the Youth Media Alliance awards in November 2019! It is now broadcasting in Canada on both English and French public channels and in Brazil on Discovery Kids. It began streaming on multiple platforms in the US, China, Taiwan, South America and MENA.
This is Where I Sleep has recently been renewed on the NFB platform, assuring its presence in Canadian and US schools in 2021-2022!
Animation series Audrey’s Shelter is currently in development in partnership with Image-in Atlantique in Montreal and Watch Next Media in France.
Moose! is an animated series based on the bestselling book by Robert Munsch, Canada’s most beloved and popular children’s author. In Banff, Alberta, moose sightings are a regular occurrence. Especially when we’re talking about Luke’s best friend and roommate – the enormous, expressive, fun-loving and curious Moose, who showed up in the family’s backyard and was adopted as their pet. With many more comedic adventures to come, these character-driven, episodic stories explore Luke and Moose’s friendship, their lives at home and in their community – finding love and laughs in those everyday family moments.
Occasional Notes Productions
During the last six months of 2020, in the midst of the COVID pandemic, the Occasional Notes Productions team in Calgary wrote and produced the Candy Cane Kids Holiday Movie, a stage show turned film. Music was written, recorded and engineered in Eastern and Western Canada. All performers were sent tracks, recorded themselves and sent vocal files back to the producers for any feedback; harmonies were added afterwards by singers in their own studios. Watch Christmas Rockstar and Wrap Up Christmas here.
Occasional Notes Productions created over 35 jobs across Canada for musicians, performers, cameramen, producers, directors, music engineers, lighting professionals, set designer, costumers, and hair and makeup artists. The entire show was filmed in nine hours! Candy Cane Kids Holiday Movie was highlighted on CTV News, The Calgary Herald and 770 CHQR Global News Radio.
Occasional Notes is working towards a digital animation pilot and shorts of family musical ZooStreet. Get ready to sing with the animals on an entertaining jungle journey that provides a unique opportunity to educate future generations on the importance of saving wildlife and preserving nature.
Portfolio’s newest preschool series, Hero Elementary, celebrates diversity with a mélange of action, laughs, and science. It had a record-breaking launch on PBS with nearly 30 million online views – and the international market is embracing it too!
Production is in full swing on a series of animated digital shorts and a Christmas special for Where Oliver Fits. Oliver, a misplaced puzzle piece with a mission to find out where he belongs, stars in this Cale Atkinson book-based property. The series launches on Treehouse in spring/summer 2021.
New TVOkids original, How Do You Feel?, launched on all TVOkids platforms in November during Bullying Awareness week. The series explores children’s mental health and encourages kids to open up about their feelings.
Riverbank Pictures is currently in development on an exciting new project for TVOkids called Let It Grow.
Sinking Ship Entertainment
Despite a global pandemic, 2020 was an epic year for Sinking Ship Entertainment, beginning with the launch of Home4School, an online learning tool created in partnership with TVO and the Shaw Rocket Fund to help parents and children in the early days of the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Moving at lightning speed, Sinking Ship Entertainment sold, filmed, and launched Lockdown with YouTube Originals and Family Channel. It won the 2020 Prix Jeunesse award for Special Achievement in COVID-19 Programming as well as a Content Innovation Award. The first 10 episodes of this mystery series, shot entirely through webcams and smart phones, followed 6 teens through the first 60 days of the North American lockdown exploring current issues such as racism and mental health. An additional 6 episodes followed the next 60 days, diving further into current events and focusing on the Black Lives Matter movement.
The company pivoted the theatrical release of Dino Dana: The Movie to a TVOD strategy. This happened alongside the season 4 launch of Dino Dana, the long-running Emmy-winning series behind the film, and the release of two best-selling companion books, The Dino Dana Field Guide and The Dino Dana Field Guide Volume II: Pterosaurs and Other Prehistoric Creatures.
Sinking Ship brought home two Canadian Screen Awards, three Kidscreen Awards, a Prix Jeunesse award, and four Daytime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Children’s or Family program for the AppleTV+ series Ghostwriter!
Following up on the successful launch of Season 1 in early 2020, the team delivered the second season of the sci-fi adventure series Endlings, now streaming on Hulu and CBC Gem. New sales for the show included Canal + in France, Showmax in pan-Africa, YLE in Finland, and RTP in Portugal.
The year culminated with being named Kidscreen’s Hot 50 #1 in Production!
Wind Sun Sky Entertainment
The Camp Bonkers Show launched on its own YouTube channel in June 2020. An original multi-media variety show, it promotes active and imaginative activities and discoveries both on and off the screen for 6-11 year olds. From the homes of the entire crew and talent, Wind Sun Sky managed to produce 1300 minutes of content, delivering 1M+ combined content views and 950k+ impressions as of October. Camp Bonkers even got the Good Housekeeping seal of approval as one of the top virtual summer camps of 2020!
Based on characters from the smash-hit music mobile game My Singing Monsters (114M+ downloads) published by Big Blue Bubble, Wind Sun Sky will leverage the game’s massive global fan base by producing the first of its kind interactive eight episodic “live animated event” series, My Singing Monsters Fandemonium, streaming on Facebook Live and YouTube starting on March 12.
An action-packed web series adapted from PlayMonster’s new toy, Snap Ships: Dawn of Battle has completed production. It is up for various prestigious toy awards including the 2021 TOTY Youtube series featured on PR News Wire.
Invincible, an 8×1 hour dramatic animated series based on Robert Kirkman’s comic, was delivered at the end of 2020. An epic undertaking given the show’s pioneering format, the series is scheduled to begin streaming on Amazon Prime starting March 26 and is highly anticipated as seen in press from IGN, Gizmodo, LA Times and Entertainment Weekly.